All worlds, no matter how fantastical, must one day fall.
Disclaimer: This work contains adult materials including extreme violence, nudity, character death, mental trauma, suicide, and identity death. This work is not suitable for minors. Reader discretion is advised.
This is a direct sequel to TSF Series #004-1: Gacha My Soul For An SSR Waifu and TSF Series #004-2: It’s a VoRE Christmas. It is recommended to read both stories in order to understand the characters, events, and concepts featured in TSF Series #004-3: VoRE_EOS.
TSF Series #004-3: VoRE_EOS
Chapter 1: Prelude to Finale
With the defeat of the Black Syndicate, the kingdom of Radiata was at peace. Its citizens were freed from fear, its cities prospered, and its borders expanded. Fiends had become a rare sighting, and people were beginning to forget about the harsh conditions they once had to live in.
As the populace rejoiced we, the Venturers of Radiant, remained steadfast in our training, knowing that a greater threat might be looming over the horizon. It had happened before. The Kuroni led to the Shadlings, who were replaced by the Tribe of Khalooner. There was always some evil lurking in the world’s underside, and while we could expect it, we never knew what form this threat would take.
One month ago, the Venturers of Castle Radiata gathered to witness a solar eclipse. A once-in-a-lifetime event where the sun would be blackened by the moon. We gathered around, gazed at the beauty of this natural phenomenon, but instead of ending after ten minutes, it lasted far longer. Ten minutes became thirty, thirty became an hour, and the hour became a day. We quickly realized that something was amiss and called upon our greatest scientists and seers to see what was going on. The scientists were baffled by the events, while the seers saw the answer and found it to be… troubling.
The seers looked into the future and saw naught but death. Crops perishing, people starving, and civilization crumbling. As rage-filled rebellions ended and the population dwindled, the moon cracked open, revealing a great evil that had been dwelling within this astral body. A great evil known as the dragons.
The dragons were wiped from the face of Gaia 10,000 years ago, by none other than the ancestor of Zyrus, the king of Radiata. They were thought to have been extinct, but it appears that they survived on the moon. There the species thrived, rebuilding its numbers and its power before, finally, amassing the might needed to not only manipulate the moon, but launch an attack on Gaia.
The future foretold by our seers was one of complete annihilation. They would rely on the lack of sun to cause famine and unrest, thinning the population over the span of months, before they descended onto Gaia to eradicate the survivors. Their goal was the genocide of all humans, usagians, gron, demihuman, fae, and fiend alike. And if left impeded, they would achieve that within a matter of days.
We trembled as we heard the news. All but Zyrus. He immediately sought a solution, a way to travel to the moon and defeat the dragons before they could cast ruin unto Gaia. Our scholars scoured through the vast library of tomes and scrolls of millennia past, and found the solution. A way to strengthen the power of us Venturers and for us to travel to the moon.
This began a month-long quest across the four corners of this world, all to awaken the Great Beasts. The Elephant of Earth that roamed the lush northern plains claimed by the nimble usagians. The Albatross of Air that resided high in the treacherous eastern mountains of the mighty gron. The Whale of Water located deep within the cold and lawless southern sea, home to limitless treachery and theft. And lastly, the Ferret of Flame, who took residence in the western desert— the remnants of a kingdom that had been devastated by dark magicks centuries prior.
With the power of the Great Beasts, us Venturers of Radiant were able to awaken latent powers, and once all four were awakened, their bodies combined into that of the Lunar Whale. The largest beast on Gaia. A being capable of traveling beyond the skies and into the realm of space.
We gathered one thousand of the greatest warriors across Gaia, and with heavy hearts, left our planet behind. Though emboldened by our newfound power, we did not know the true strength of the foe we were going up against. The might of dragons had been obscured by fables and retellings, and the true magnitude of their power could only be determined by guesswork.
Fear and unrest dwelled within the hearts of many, myself included. Even Zyrus was troubled by these uncertain odds, yet he still did all could to ready us for battle, for what very well might be a suicide mission. We clenched onto our determination as we accepted the possibility of death, but promised that, no matter what, we would never surrender. For we were the only hope for all who lived on Gaia. For we all had something to defend. Our friends, our families, our countries. For them, we would fight to the bitter end, until our bodies run dry!
This was our resolve and, soon enough, it was put to the test.
With the aid of the Lunar Whale and their vast knowledge, we learned the only practical means of defeating the dragons was to kill their ruler. She who births and controls all dragons. Lunadrella the dragon queen. From the vast quantities of mana her body emitted, we could tell that she resided underground, within the center of the dragon’s domain. It would be a foolish move to ambush the center of our enemy’s greatest line of defense, but we had no other choice if we wanted even the possibility of victory.
So, with a heavy thud, the Lunar Whale crashed down to the center of the domain, toppling mountainous structures and crushing several dragons in the process. Our army of a thousand then rushed out of the Lunar Whale’s body and battled the dragons who scurried to the crash site.
Though our might had increased twofold from the power of the Great Beasts, the dragons proved to be a mighty threat. They moved swiftly, aggressively, without care for their own wellbeing, and desiring only to kill their opponents. To go against one alone was tantamount to suicide, and even with a full party of Venturers, the mortality rate was horrifyingly high.
The situation grew more dire as reinforcements came. As three dragons replaced every one we fell. I wanted nothing more than to help and fight alongside my allies on the front lines, but my mission was elsewhere. I had to join Zyrus in the descent into the bowels of this domain, searching for its queen. It was an arduous and bloody trek, where our band of thirty-two warriors battled against thirteen dragons, and was culled down to a mere six.
Zyrus, king of Radiata, savior of Gaia, and my beloved husband, stood valiant with his mane of blonde hair, white armor, and silver blade in hand. His light complexion was pale, but his amethyst eyes burned with determination.
Solange, his royal retainer and holy mage. A woman blessed with divine beauty and even greater kindness. Her skin was pale, hair a pure black, and eyes a stark yellow. She wore a holy attire of white robes, covering a set of white cloth that tightly bound to her skin, leaving nothing exposed beneath her neck, while hiding none of her ample curves.
Nylez, the crafty and cunning usagian, an agile archer and brilliant tactician. His limber body was clad in dark leather armor and bound by a cloak. He looked at us with a cocky smirk on his tanned face, yet within his dark, willowy hair, his tall, furry ears were quivering.
Krasher threw a hand on Nylez’s shoulder, reassuring his longtime friend. Krasher was a Gron, a humanoid creature with a thick skin, who was able to take just about any sort of punishment that could be thrown at him. His complexion was colored the same as a mountain’s stone, his thick frame was dressed in silver armor, and within his gauntlets, he held a hammer that weighed more than a child.
Chlozo, a master level Magi, looked on at the gate before us, her silver-colored shining among her tan face, while her dark purple twintails flowed down her back. Her body was dressed in tight dark robes, spanning from blue to violet to black, and within her hands, she held her golden gem-encrusted wand that radiated with mana.
While I, Isadore Ivalliance, stood in my sapphire armor, my silver hair billowing past my shoulders, holding my trusty lance within my hand. I brought a hand to my dark face, allowing the metal of my gauntlet to cool my cheek as I reminded myself of what I was fighting for. Of who I was fighting for. My friends, my kingdom, and the child growing inside me.
Us six had been among the first Venturers of Radiant, and over the past five years, through the good and the bad, we had come to know one another on an intimate level. In a sense, it was almost poetic that, after all this time, after so much death, the six of us stood together. We all recognized this fact and, without saying any words, with merely a knowing look, we nodded and walked up to our destination. The chamber of Lunadrella the dragon queen.
Chapter 2: The Final Battle
As Krasher made quick work of the door, we were greeted by a massive chamber of stone that emitted a faint yellowish light. The chamber itself was shaped in a near-perfect circle, and on the opposite end of this room, we saw our target. Lunadrella. Her body was that of a quadrupedal beast, dark violet and gray scales covering her body, massive wings jutting from her back. Her small violet eyes shined even as we stood so far apart, and as she recognized our presence, her mouth opened, revealing dozens of teeth that could penetrate even the mightiest armor.
As we locked eyes with this vile creature, we rushed forward, ready to begin the battle, for we knew there was no possibility of compromise. The dragon queen knew that too, but that did not stop her from shouting at us in a booming voice.
“FOOLS! Do you truly believe a mere six humanoids can slay a being such as I? My power has amassed to something divine over the eons, and I shall not be stopped by such a pitiful effort!”
We did not flinch as she spoke. We merely began our assault and, in doing so, we recognized the might of the enemy we were facing.
Krasher let out a roar, conjuring a magical shield that surrounded all of us, but Lunadrella let out her own roar, causing the shields to shatter.
Chlozo launched a flurry of magicks, spanning all seven elements, and while all of them struck the scaly hide of Lunadrella, none so much as grazed her as she walked forward.
Nylez loosed an arrow at the dragon, one meant to encumber her with myriad afflictions, ranging from poison to paralysis, yet she moved as if she was struck by a mere stick.
Solange cast a beam of magick at Lunadrella, aiming to dispel whatever layer of protection she had guarding her person, only to realize that she did not have one or two layers protecting her from attacks, but dozens.
While our allies tested this foe with these ranged attacks, Zyrus and I joined together for a dual attack. A piercing and slashing strike at the core of Lunadrella’s being. Our movements, fast and forceful, dealt some damage to the Lunadrella, but it was a mere tenth of the damage we dealt to other dragons.
“Uh, boss, I hate to break it to you, but nothing’s working!” Krasher shouted as he ran closer to the Lunadrella.
“You could say that again. If she’s resistant to poison, there’s not much I can really do here except stand around and look pretty,” Nylez quipped.
“I knew that the queen would be more formidable than her servants, but this is absurd!” Chlozo said with a huff.
“Everyone, we need to take drastic measures. This is the end of our journey, and we can not afford to hold anything back.” Zyrus declared as he continued to slash away.
“What’s the plan then?” I asked.
“We call upon those on Gaia, beg for their strength. Lunar Whale, do you have the strength to send one final message?”
As Zyrus asked, the voice of the Lunar Whale reverberated through our heads.
“I have plenty of strength within me. Speak, and I shall let your words be known to all.”
“To all who reside on Gaia, this is Zyrus of Radiata. We have made it to the layer of the dragons, and if we want any chance of saving the world, we need your help. So please, I implore you, raise up your hands and send us whatever energy we can spare. If we can’t get through this, then… there might not be a Gaia for you to call home. I beg all humans, all usagians, all gron, all demihuman, all fae, every animal, every plant, everything, even the planet itself.”
As Zyrus made his speech, we adopted a defensive position, dodging and running away from the dragon queen as she sprayed dark toxins from her mouth, flapped her wings, and swiped at us with her claws. While we had the opportunity to land strikes, we held out hands, for we knew that nothing would come from damaging Lunadrella. That we would lose all stamina before we could draw blood from this foe.
Minutes passed as we bided our time, before, all at once, it hit us. Our bodies became encased in light as a rush of energy poured into us. And with that energy, came a surge of memories.
I remembered the first time I met with Zyrus, lashing out at him in superstition before recognizing him as an ally. I remembered how embarrassed I was when I had to wear that vampire costume during SpookyFes. I remembered when we left for a summer getaway and were sent into a dreamlike murder mystery by a malicious aardvark. I remembered when I had to look after the children who we let join our ranks, supervising them as we enjoyed the summer festival. I remembered the uncertainty we all felt as we learned that Zyrus was a homunculus with a body forged from the flesh of a fallen demigod. And I remembered the joy on people’s faces as we all came back to the castle to announce that a new force of evil had been incapacitated.
If Lunadrella were to win, that would be the end of it. I would not be able to force any more memories. I would lose all the bonds that I cherish. I would not be able to spend time with anyone ever again. And this worry— this fear— filled my being with a profound might!
As my determination was steeled, the light broke away from my body, revealing myself, clad in radiant armor, and with a lance that was surrounded in a spiral of water mana. I felt my power increase to heights I thought to be impossible, and as I looked around the battlefield, I saw I was not alone. All five of my allies were similarly dressed in radiant armor, and with weapons pulsating with energy. Zyrus with flame, Krasher with earth, Nylez with wind, Solange with light, and Chlozo with shadow. Our power was overwhelming, and with this power, we attacked the dragon once more.
Solange dispelled all magicks protecting Lunadrella. Krasher summoned another shield, one stronger than any he summoned before. Nylez fired an arrow that pierced the thick hide of the dragon, injecting a vile toxin into her bloodstream. While Chlozo struck her with a blast containing magicks of all elements.
The dragon queen recoiled from this assault, shouting in dismay, voicing how this was ‘impossible’ before Zyrus and I launched another dual strike, and pierced the scales guarding the dragon’s shoulder, causing her to bleed.
“Hell yeah! We’ve got this, guys. We’ve got this by the ass!” Nylez said with a chuckle.
“Now is not the time for cocky commentary!” Solange retorted. “We must remain resolute, for we have the weight of the world resting on our shoulders.”
“She’s right, we need to focus, you never know what a creature like this is capable of.” I said.
“Just because she can talk doesn’t make her any less of a monster. Keep it cool and keep your damn distance!” Chlozo grunted.
We tried to abide by our mantra of caution and care, but Lunadrella moved quickly, propelling herself forward with her wings and swiping her claws with equal haste. She was faster, larger, and more aggressive than the dragons we had faced on our way to this chamber and, soon enough, we witnessed the true magnitude of her might.
As Nylez launched a volley of debilitating arrows at Lunadrella, the monster thrust herself toward him and swiped her claw forward. Nylez dodged this strike well in advance, but instead of moving away from her, he moved to the center of her being, placing him right before her mouth. He lacked the time to turn around, let alone dodge, and soon found his back covered in the hot, vile, breath of Lunadrella, her teeth looming above his head and behind his back.
The dragon queen bit down on Nylez, severing his torso in two, and consuming the upper half of his body. He let out a scream as his body was ripped apart, but before he could speak any last words, his head was crushed like a grape. Blood splattered onto Lunadrella’s face as she let the rest of his body fall to the floor.
We had seen many allies fall or sacrifice themselves during the past few hours, but Nylez was a companion from the very beginning. One of our most trusted tacticians. Yet, there he was, dead as can be.
We stood in shock for a moment, before one of us found the resolve to respond and, unsurprisingly, it was Krasher.
“You scaly bastard! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you and all your children! You’ve taken too many people from me, and I won’t let you take anyone else!”
Krasher then ran toward Lunadrella’s left hind leg. With a leaping strike, he brought his weapon down onto her claws, striking it with the full weight of his being. Lunadrella cried out as she felt her hardy dragon bones crack from this immense force, and in this moment, with this slight hesitation presented to him, Zyrus took action.
“Aim for the left wing. NOW!”
Zyrus rushed toward Lunadrella, his blade ready to slash, while Solange, Chlozo, and I launched a burst of magicks. Solange enhanced Zyrus’s blade with the power of light. I cast freezing magic to keep the wing from moving. While Chlozo sent lightning coursed through the body, weakening the flesh as Zyrus aimed for the base of the wing. With a single, mighty slash, he severed the wing from Lunadrella’s body, where it fell to the ground in a gusty thud.
Zyrus stood on the dragon’s back and looked down at Krasher, whose body was bound within the hind claw of the dragon, struggling to hold back the weight and force of this imposing beast.
I rushed toward him, using my lance to thrust myself forward, but as Lunadrella lashed her tail in my direction, I was sent tumbling to the floor. There, I saw Zyrus stabbing his blade through Lunadrella’s leg, hoping to sever its muscles, while our Magi joined in this focused assault. As his friends tried to save him, Krasher let out a hardy laugh.
“Hah! I’ve fought against living volcanos, mountain-sized golems, and the usual landslides. But I think, after all this time, I found something that’s tougher than me. Something that can crush Krasher. Lemme give you guys one last boost and then… I guess this is goodbye. Don’t weep for me, just kill this bastard!”
As Krasher made that speech, he used a skill that sent his life force to the four of us, filling us with a vibrant energy, and coating our persons with a layer of glowing, transparent armor. The second after we felt this energy enter our bodies, Lunadrella’s hind leg stomped down, crushing Krasher and reducing his body to a pile of blood, viscera, and metal.
“Oh, to HELL with this!” Chlozo erupted. “It is time for desperate measures. It is time for the forbidden art.”
“Chlozo, no! That will kill you!” I shouted, standing on top of Lunadrella’s fallen wing.
“Death is a certainty in this situation. I swore to never cast this spell after it ended the life of my master and destroyed my hometown, but if it kills the dragon queen, I’m fine dying a liar.”
Before Zyrus and Solange could voice any objection, Chlozo’s eyes shined white. She stared at Lunadrella, her wand held high, and spoke the name of the spell that had haunted her since she was a little girl.
From Lunadrella’s wand, a burst of flame and dark magicks flowed forward. Lunadrella tried to dodge, but the attack still struck the very core of her being, and began burning away the hardest part of her hide, chipping away her scales at a rapid pace. As the beam dug through her body, a flurry of explosions burst out across her person, breaking away chunks of her scales and leaving her flesh exposed. The dragon cried in pain, the beams stopped and, with her eyes still glowing white, Chlozo let out one final word.
A massive explosion of dark and flame magicks then followed, surrounding the entirety of Lunadrella, and causing her to let out a deafening screech. As the explosion came to an end, a cloud of smoke obscured Lunadrella, and Chlozo fell to the ground like a plush doll.
Solange was the first to rush to her aid, but as she looked down at her white eyes, devoid of any iris or pupils, she knew that the life had left Chlozo’s body. That the person before her was no longer a person, but a corpse.
“No… Why must this keep happening? We have lost so much and… for what? For what purpose do we suffer, God? I was faithful to you, but you do this to those I love? I—”
“Solange, now is not the time to be sentimental!” Zyrus shouted.
“Zyrus, how callous! You know the two were—” I began before Zyrus cut me off.
“Lunadrella still lives. Even Omega Flare wasn’t enough to kill her.”
I then looked toward the fading smoke and saw the glowing violet eyes of Lunadrella. Soon after, her entire body emerged from the smoke. While the attack did not kill her, it severely wounded her. Her thick hide of scales was blown away, leaving most of her glowing organs and muscles exposed. Blood dripped from her form, pouring onto the floor with every step, and those steps were slower and clumsier than before, for she lacked her left hind leg. Her right wing was also in an abysmal state, being nothing more than a branch of bone that jutted out from her frame, for she lacked the muscles needed to move it.
The dragon queen was in a sorry state compared to the threat we saw minutes ago, yet that did nothing to quell her fury. It only amplified it.
“Your power surpassed my greatest imagination, but as you can see, even the mightiest of magicks is not enough to kill me!”
Lunadrella then ran toward us, moving with an agility greater than anything she had ever expressed previously. She moved in a frenzy, flailing her body around in an attempt to catch us off our guard. As Zyrus realized this, he told us to play defensive, and I complied, dodging and weaving past her body as she painted the battlefield with her own blood.
I knew there was some logic to this action, but we did not know if a dragon would even tire like this. If a being so frothing with mana could lose their stamina. Still, I complied with my husband’s commands, at least until I rolled onto the corpse of Nylez. His limber legs had been trampled by Lunadrella in her assault, and his blood had been splayed across the ground, where it clung to my radiant armor.
I clenched my teeth as I saw Zyrus and Solange running away, biding their time and looking for an opening. I decided that I would not allow Lunadrella to take anyone else away from me, and, with a deep breath, I channeled upon the mana coursing through my spear and launched a spell to incapacitate this rampaging beast.
I waited until Lunadrella turned toward me, planted my lance into the ground, and chanted the spell.
“Prime Piercing Permafrost Pillars!”
From the ground, a group of six pillars rose. Pillars made from the hardest and most frigid of ice. They penetrated through the flesh of the dragon queen and sent her rampaging body up into the air.
She howled at me as she realized I robbed her of her freedom, and in return, I smiled. My body felt fatigued from such a powerful display, from casting something powerful enough to incapacitate a beast of this scale, but I was not done yet. I had to pierce the glowing organ at the bottom of her belly and, with my spear pulled from the ground, I channeled my energy into it, causing the head to spin rapidly, becoming a drill. A drill that would pierce the devil above me.
I jumped upwards, propelling myself into Lunadrella’s chest, where my lance drilled through her organs, through her bones, and through the scattering of scales that still laid on her back. I flew out of her body, my lance pointing forward, and immediately fell to the stony ground below. My body had become covered in the dragon’s toxic blood. It was thick, sickening, and gnawed away at what strength I had left in my being.
I tolerated the pain and looked onward at Lunadrella as she flailed and roared from the intense pain filling her person. From the agony caused by the person-sized hole in her chest. She then turned her head to me, and I let out a weak smile.
“Isa, please tell me you’re still alive!” Solange shouted as she cast a healing magick at me.
The healing spell felt refreshing, but it did nothing about the toxins covering my body. That is, until I felt mana-filled water fall onto my being, washing away the poison. I let out a sigh of relief as I was freed from this pain and looked up to see Zyrus standing above me.
“Isa, please, tell me you’re alright?”
“Zyrus, you sentimental fool! Don’t comfort me! Kill the dragon and save the world! Do it before the ice melts!”
I then looked at Lunadrella. The ice pillars were still keeping her propped up, but they were rapidly losing mass.
“I shall, Isa,” Zyrus said, kissing me on the lips before running off a second later.
With hazy vision, I watched Zyrus as he ran toward Lunadrella, his blade in both hands, as he jumped through the air and slashed his blade through the dragon’s neck. Both he and the head fell at the same time. His body remained rigid as he fell, but the head of Lunadrella still flopped around, teeming with life. As Zyrus saw this, he clenched his blade again and thrust it through the center of the head, penetrating the dragon’s brain and causing it to let out a final pain-wrought gasp.
For a second, this scene lingered. This gorgeous sight of a beautiful armor-clad knight standing over the corpse of a great evil that desired naught but destruction. Yet, just as I began to capture this image in the recesses of my mind, this sight became covered in darkness. The body of Lunadrella had burst into a cloud of dark mana.
I held my breath as I waited for the darkness to fade, and I saw Zyrus, standing on his knees clutching onto his sword with both hands. He used the sword to prop himself up and began walking toward me, slowly and clumsily, using his sword as a walking aid. As I looked over him, I saw that he was also covered with the toxic blood of the dragon queen, which would eat away at his flesh if left unattended.
With the last of my mana, I cast a cleansing water spell. As the water fell onto him, the dragon blood left his being, and his person crumbled to the ground. We were only a meter away from one another, neither of us could move and, after exchanging glances, we smiled at each other.
Before I could even attempt to speak to him, I felt another wave of healing magick flow across my being, and saw the same happen to Zyrus. Even with the toxins washed away from our beings, I still felt it linger within my body, preventing this healing magic from working as effectively as it should. I let out a grunt as I realized this, and looked up to see Solange. Her face was stained with tears, and her hands were wrapped around her staff, prepping for another round of healing. Seconds later, another pulse of healing hit my body.
“It… it’s not working? Why is my magick not working? My healing is among the most potent of any Magi on Gaia, so why—”
“Solange, please, don’t blame yourself,” I said. “We knew this was a suicide mission and… the dragon queen is dead. She’s gone, and will never hurt anyone again. We saved the world for the… what, seventeenth time?”
“Probably more, but who’s counting?” Zyrus added.
“What the Hells are you saying? I… I need to heal you. The world needs you two, I need you two. You are some of my closest companions and… after Nylez, Krasher, and Chlozo all died, I… I don’t want to be alone again. Please, power through it! I have some more archaic spells I can try but—”
As Solange implored us to keep fighting for life, the moon began to shake. We lacked any window to the outside world, but if what the Lunar Whale said was true, then the moon was reverting back to its natural order. The month-long eclipse was coming to an end.
“We… did it. We saved the world.” I said, a smile on my face.
“Lunar Whale,” Zyrus whispered, “please, allow me to speak to my allies once again.”
Zyrus then paused before speaking again, his voice traveling through both my ears and my mind.
“Venturers of Radiant! My companions and I have slain the dragon queen, Lunadrella. With her gone, the moon shall resume its rotation, the eclipse shall end, and the dragons remaining on the moon shall grow weaker and more restless. To all my allies, I thank you. Your bonds— your friendships— are what made my life greater than I could ever imagine. However… I must say goodbye to all of you.”
Zyrus then went silent, and his mental transmission ended. With a smile on his face, he turned to look at Solange and I.
“It is time for me to leave this world. Too many dragons are out there, and I don’t want anyone else to perish.”
“Zyrus, what are you saying?!” I shouted at him, my voice hoarse with fury. “None of your allies would want you to die in their stead!”
“I know that, but… My body is broken. I can no longer feel my legs, and beneath my armor, my muscles have been gnawed away by toxins. I don’t even want to see what I look like down there. I could never live a normal life and, rather than pine for what I once had and lead based on my past victory, I would rather surrender this life in one last bout of heroism.”
“Zyrus,” I began, “I’m… I’m your wife, how could you even say that to me? Don’t you—”
“Isadore, Solange… I am asking both of you to lead Radiata in my place. To carry out my legacy and to continue my lineage with the children you carry. Isa, I love you more than anyone else. And Solange, without your lifelong guidance, I would not be the man I am today. Words cannot thank you enough so, with a heavy heart, I grant both of you one final goodbye.”
“Zyrus, what— Wait… Did you impregnate Solange and not tell me?” I said, completely dumbfounded.
“I— I thought he had your approval to procreate with multiple women. Zyrus, what—”
As Solange stammered, Zyrus’s body became covered in light. Light that consumed and shrank his entire being, forming it into a radiant sword of light. As Solange and I looked at this weapon with both awe and confusion, the blade lifted itself off the ground and flew through the passage that brought us to Lunadrella’s chamber.
With Zyrus gone, we were left in an awkward state, unsure of what to say or what we could say. And we certainly didn’t want to talk about… that. Instead, I merely asked Solange to allow me to rest as she tried to remove the poison from my body, casting spell after spell, each one making me feel a bit better.
Once I felt strong enough to stand, Solange aided me out of this chamber and through the bloodied underground cavern. It was a slow trek, but we eventually reached the surface, where we saw an army of dragons… with bodies made of stone. We were both baffled by such a sight, but as we saw a sword-shaped scar across these dragons’ chests, we knew that this had to be the work of Zyrus. Even in death, he fought for us.
Chapter 3: The End
Ever since that fateful day, the halls of Castle Radiata have been uncannily quiet. Over half of our residents fell in battle, and those that survived… lacked the same spark of joy they once had. We were a group fragmented and broken. A group still wrapped in mourning. A group that would never be what it once was.
For as much as I wanted to comfort myself after the harsh battle I had been subjected to, I had other duties to attend to. As the widowed queen, it was my duty to make a declaration to the people of Radiata. To announce the good, the bad, and pave the path for a new era.
I looked down at myself, at my body clad in my most regal of attire, in a dress of blue and white silk, and then looked to my side, to Solange. She had been at Zyrus’s side since he was a small boy and now, with him gone from this world, she had sworn to look after me, to aid me with whatever I needed. For now though, I merely needed her to stand by my side as I made my speech. My body was shaky as I neared the balcony, but as I heard the crowd of people clamoring outside the castle, I found the strength I needed to speak.
“Citizens of Radiata! Look at the clear blue sky overhead. See the brilliant sun shining down upon you all. This is what I and the Venturers of Radiant fought for. To restore the sun to this world. To restore order to a land steeped in chaos.”
“King Zyrus, myself, and the Venturers of Radiant traveled to the moon on the Lunar Whale, where we battled against the masters of the month-long eclipse. A force long since thought to have been extinct and wiped from this world. Dragons. We fought tooth and nail and, sadly, many of us perished along the way. Including our beloved King Zyrus. He shall be remembered within the hearts and minds of us all, and as his queen, I shall do all I can to honor his noble sacrifice. From continuing his policies and posterity, to giving birth to progeny.”
“I shall do all I can to ensure that the next generation of rulers is one of the greatest to ever lead this land. I shall do all I can to rebuild, expand, and forge an even more radiant tomorrow. For you, for your children, for us all!”
I shivered as I finished this speech, wishing that I had consulted with a writer before delivering my improvised declaration, but the crowd rewarded my words with cheers. A wave of relief washed over me as I continued to wave to my citizens… Only for my body to freeze. Only for every citizen gathered at the base of the castle to freeze. Water ceased to run, birds remained stuck in mid-air, and the breeze I felt against my face from the balcony… that too ceased to move.
I could no longer move my body. I could merely observe what happened before me. And what I saw was… horrifying. From the upper quadrant of my eyes, I could see the blue sky I praised, the sun that my allies and I worked so hard to restore. Within a flash of an eye, with no fanfare, it disappeared. In its place, there was a black void. Something darker than the darkest night. A black only achievable when in a place untouched by the sky.
Despite this, light still illuminated this land… only for the land itself to suffer the same fare. The vast horizon I saw around me, the facilities and altars that had been constructed among the castle grounds, they were all met with the same fate as the sky above. Within a fraction of a second, they disappeared. No fading, no poof, nothing. Just replaced with blackness.
Seconds later, the crowd below followed. Hundreds of people… gone. After them, it was the castle, the balcony escaping from my vision. This left only myself and Solange, standing in the corner of my eyes. I prayed that I would be able to keep this at the very least but, a moment later, Solange vanished. With her gone, all I could see was black. All I could feel was my own body and, soon enough, I couldn’t even feel that. Soon enough, there was naught but darkness. Naught but black.
I knew not why this was happening, or what was happening, and my final thoughts were that of prayer. I prayed that, even if this was my death, that I would be reunited with Zyrus in Heaven.
Chapter 4: And Thus Was The World Lost
My eyes were slow to open as I woke up, as if they had been bound shut with glue. When I finally opened them, I was met with an unfamiliar room. A room with walls painted a soft yellow, with a ceiling of a peculiar white tile, and exposed windows that illuminated the room with afternoon sun. I looked to my other side and saw a shut door, an empty cushioned chair, and an end table with a… smooth apparatus with various buttons. Some labeled with numbers, and others with unrecognizable symbols.
I moved my head around some more and saw a black rectangular object coming from the wall in front of me. Its surface was flat and smooth, shimmering like a stone cut in two, but I could not fathom what the purpose of such a device was, being too tall for most to reach without a stool.
I groaned in response to this oddity… and brought my eyes downward. The first thing I noticed was that I was in a bed or some manner, covered in a blanket. That was not too unfamiliar, but the frame appeared to be out of some unfamiliar white substance. Something with a smooth texture. Perhaps… ceramics?
I shook my head and proceeded to look down at my person and… I saw a body that looked shorter and flatter than the one I knew. A body that, removing the blanket, was clad in a thin light blue cloth and had a tan skin color, its hue similar to Chlozo’s, I suppose. I curiously brought a hand to my chest and felt… no breasts. Moving my hand lower, my frame felt… emaciated.
I could tell that I was in the body of a man, and while this revelation should have caused me to panic, I felt… weak. Weak and lethargic. Like I had slept for more than a full day.
I continued looking through my surroundings and discovered a metal pole with a transparent bag filled with water. The bag went down a tube and the tube went into my… other arm. I looked around and saw a similar tube that went down beneath this bed, originating from another part of my body. Casting the blanket aside, I saw that the tube was connected to my… penis. It went inside through my… penis hole.
“What the Hells is going on here?”
As I asked that question, I was greeted with this body’s voice. It was… not as deep as Zyrus’s honeyed voice, but it was far deeper than anything I was capable of previously. Though, considering what I saw between my legs, I guess this was to be expected.
I tried to make sense of my situation, searching for an answer as to what this place was or why I was like this. Yet, I found nothing. I was in another body, in a strange land, and while I could potentially move, the tubes poking into me and the frailty of my body urged me to stay put and wait for someone to help me.
Accordingly, I tried calling for help. I opened up my dry throat and did my best to make noise to draw the attention of someone. After a few minutes, I considered stopping… only for the door to open, revealing a woman in dark blue pants and a shirt that hung loosely on her body. Her head looked unusually small and… the same was true for her eyes. She looked ‘human,’ but bizarre all the same.
She looked at me with surprise and said something in a language I did not recognize. I muttered that I just woke up, and she wasted little time heading to the object with various buttons on it, placing part of it against her head before speaking into it.
I tried speaking to her once she put the apparatus down, but she did not seem to understand Common Gaian. She merely looked at me with confusion, shuffling about before someone entered the room. A large man with a bald head and light skin, dressed in a gray jacket. Much like the woman, his head looked too small, as did his beady eyes. He looked so unusual that the moniker of demihuman seemed more appropriate than just ‘human.’
He spoke to me in words I could not understand, and I tried to explain as much, using whatever phrases of other languages I could recall from my journey. None of which he seemed to recognize. He sighed in response, spoke to the woman in blue, and she left. The bald man then dug a hand into his pants pocket and pulled out a thin black object he placed against his head, talking into it, not unlike how the woman did with the device next to my bed. I thought they might be the same device, but their form factors were so different, I considered that a ludicrous notion.
Eventually, the man in gray stopped talking into the object, looked at me, and shrugged with confusion. He then stood by the door, remaining in the room until the woman in blue returned, pushing a wheeled table with a dining tray on top. They talked to each other in an unfamiliar language before the woman in blue moved toward me, and to the tubes connected to my person. She moved with grace, pulling a needle out of my arm and a tube out of my penis.
I tried to thank the woman, but she said nothing. She merely moved the tubes to other parts of the bed before wheeling over the tray and table she brought to this room minutes earlier. I feared that I would be served something as uncanny as the faces here, but instead, the tray’s contents were almost mundane. A thin cup containing water, a small ceramic bowl of vegetable soup, and a slice of bread on a plate.
The woman gestured at me, sipping from an imaginary glass of water and biting into an invisible loaf of weightless bread, before I began to partake in what laid before me. The water quenched my dry throat, but as I chewed the bread, I realized just how… different my mouth felt. My teeth seemed asymmetrical, uneven, and everything in my mouth felt… grosser than I thought it should.
Once I finished this small meal, the man in gray returned, this time with a narrow device lined in buttons. He pressed a few while pointing at the black rectangle connected to the wall and… it began displaying a series of lights, colors, and foreign characters, before showing the image of a demihuman. A demihuman who, much like the two in the room with me, had a tiny head and tinier eyes. He was dressed in a suit and, after a moment, he spoke to me… in Common Gaian.
“I see that you have woken up… your name is Isadore Ivalliance, right?”
“Y-Yes,” I replied, talking to the man on the flat surface. “That is my name. Or was before I… woke up in this body.”
“I see. You are one of the few who chose to discard their identity in the virtual world. That will make this very difficult to explain, so please forgive me. I will try to put this into terms you can understand.”
“What does… ‘virtual’ mean?”
“Isadore… the world you knew is no more. Gaia is no more, and as a result, your soul was brought into this world, where it returned to your original body. The body you had before you became Isadore.”
I was inclined to brand the man a liar for presenting such wild acquisitions. Alas, I lacked a more rational explanation, so I held my tongue and allowed him to continue.
“Nearly five years ago, a young man by the name of Ian Illanes found his soul transported into another world known as Gaia. His soul was bonded with a person named Isadore Ivalliance, and as part of the soul bonding process, Ian discarded his identity, and embraced the identity of Isadore. Living the life of Isadore brought them great joy, but when they remembered their life as Ian, they chose to erase these memories. Now, the memories of Ian Illanes no longer exist.”
“So, you mean to say that this Ian person… became me?”
“Precisely. Ian’s soul left his body, Ian’s soul merged with your soul, Isadore, and you two became one. However, you lost your body, and your soul had to return somewhere, or else it would vanish. With no other place to go, it returned to the body of Ian, which will be your body going forward.”
“But… Why did my real body die?” I barked in response. “What happened in Gaia? Everything turned black just as I was about to usher in a new era and—”
“Everything was deleted and erased. Because the virtual world you knew was deemed too dangerous, and its destruction was ordered by the Japanese government.”
“Ja-pan-ese? Why does that sound familiar?”
“Because it is on some level. The language you are speaking is known as Japanese in this world, and comes from the nation of Japan. Ian previously spoke both English and Spanish, the languages spoken by your doctor and nurse, but you lost that knowledge along with your memories as Ian. You should have been transferred to a hospital that could better serve your linguistic needs, but that is one of the hundreds of things that went wrong with this whole sorry affair.”
“So, I am Isadore… but I need to live my life as this… Ian person now?”
“That is a succinct way to view it. Yes. Your life as Isadore has been taken from you and… we can never return it to you. It is all gone and, I’m sorry. We here at Nigma Softworks will do what we can to help you adjust to your new life, to make your body comfortable for you. But for now, we recommend you remain at this hospital. Your body is weak and you need to recover your strength before you can leave. I will provide the hospital with contact information so someone can help you going forward and answer any questions. For now, however, I believe I have given you enough to think over. Do you have any additional questions, Isadore?”
“…Why do you keep calling me that?” I asked, venom in my voice. “Aren’t I Ian now?”
“Your name can be changed to whatever you desire it to be. You have the mind of Isadore, and I was attempting to be respectful of your identity by referring to you as Isadore. If you have a different preferred name, please let me know what it is.”
“…Isadore is fine… but what am I to do in this world? I don’t understand what anything is. That water that went into my body, this rectangle you are speaking from. None of this matches the world I knew and… none of you look like humans!”
“…You will need to learn much to live in this world, Isadore. Please, be patient and it shall all make sense eventually. It might take months, but it is our job to comfort you and help you adapt to this world. Once you are well enough to leave the country, we shall take you to Japan and shall begin helping you adjust to a new life.”
His words sounded sincere, but as he made these promises… I trusted him less and less. Yet, I did not want to spark anger within him, so I chose to end this conversation.
“I… I think I need some time to think,” I said, whimpering.
“I understand. Goodbye for now, Isadore.”
As our conversation ended, the man disappeared from the black frame, and I drifted my vision down to my new body. My ‘original’ body. The body of a man named Ian.
The man in gray and woman in blue saw that I was lost in thought and, with no way to communicate with me, they shut the door and left me in my bed, alone.
I… had lost everything. My body. My world. My future. My husband. And… my child. In place of all of these things, I was in a land I did not understand, in a body that, for whatever reason, filled me with disgust as I looked upon it. It was on an almost instinctual level. Something about it just… unnerved me, and I felt like it was some sort of prison I had been thrust into. The mangy hairs that covered my chest, the bizarre creases in my skin, and the way my fingers looked. It was all so… disgusting. So… unwomanly, so… inhuman.
Skin was supposed to be smooth and silky. Eyes were not supposed to be these beady optical orbs. And the more I felt the mangy hair across my body and face, the less real it all felt.
The more I thought about this body, the angrier I got, and with anger… came fatigue. Despite having just woken up from a coma, my eyes drifted shut and I fell asleep once again. Part of me hoped that this would mark the end of a nightmare, but I was not so fortunate.
Chapter 5: End of Service
The room was dark as I woke up, illuminated by moonlight and starlight from the nearby window. My body was still as weak as it was previously, but as I shuffled in my bed, I realized something was amiss. That I needed to… relieve myself.
The tube that went up my… urethra must have absorbed my pee while I was unconscious. Unconscious for… ‘nearly five years.’ That explained the lethargy I felt. Still, I mustered whatever strength I could to leave my bed… and began looking for a way to relieve myself.
In Gaian hospitals, a chamber pot was made available for patients to relieve themselves, but I saw no such thing beneath the elaborate underside of my bed. So I began to explore my room, where I found a door I had not seen previously. A door that gave way to a small room with a porcelain sink and a porcelain apparatus that resembled a chamber pot.
With a groan, I proceeded to move my gown out of the way and place my exposed posterior over this apparatus, where it felt… comfortable.
There, I sighed and breathed, unsure how to work the fleshy tube between my legs, let alone use this porcelain chamber pot. However, the method of absolving myself of worries seemed to work wonders, and I felt a stream of fluids escape from my urethra and onto the bowl below, where it splashed against the water, creating an uncanny sound.
Once done, I looked down at my person, my tiny hairy penis hanging over a puddle of urine and… I did something I had not done in so many years. Something I was unable to do during the entirety of my life on Gaia. I… cried. I sobbed and sobbed, dousing my hairy arms with tears and continuing until I could cry no more.
“This… this is my life now, but… why? Why must I live this life? Why, Divines, if you still exist, if you survived the loss of Gaia, did this happen to me? I had everything, yet now… I have nothing. I fought for justice, I saved thousands, if not millions, and though the role of leader was cast upon me, I promised to lead justly and righteously. Did I offend you? Why was I not sent to heaven with Zyrus, Krasher, Nylez, Chlozo, and all the rest? Please… someone… answer me.”
But they didn’t answer me. They never did.
With frustration, I got off of the porcelain bowl and curiously pushed a small metal lever. A loud noise then escaped the otherworldly chamber pot as water began swirling down into the hole at the bottom of the bowl, before rising again. It was a curious thing, but before I could investigate how such a device worked, I realized there was a mirror above the sink.
Through the light of the moon and stars, I saw my reflection. My face was covered in a mangy mesh of dark hairs, the hair on my head was curly and billowed past my ears, and my face contained the same inhuman proportions of everyone I had seen in this world. I looked ugly, and… this face made me want to shatter the mirror.
This face, this body, this penis between my legs. I… I despised it. It was all wrong. All a perversion of what I knew. All feeling like an insult on a profound level for reasons I could not fathom. I wanted my body back, but… if what the man on the rectangle said was true, there was no way for me to get it back. I was this person, this Ian, for the rest of my days.
What was there for me in this world? This land of confusion and ugliness? I had only known a sliver, but with every new detail I discovered… I felt something rage within my body. With every passing second here, my discontent grew.
That was when I realized what this world was.
This was a mere trick. A trap. This world was not unlike the one crafted by the aardvark who ruined our summer getaway. Not unlike the other worlds I visited when I was tortured by the Tribe of Khalooner. This was a false reality created by some malicious miscreant! And I would not play along any longer. I was through dealing with this, this… rubbish! I had lost too much to partake in any more of these games, and I was through with it.
It was time for me to leave this false world, to return to reality… or enter the true afterlife. Either way, it would be better than this.
I searched through the room for something to sever my throat, but I found nothing of the sort. Not even a needle, a knife, or anything… but I had a window. A window that looked down a 20 meter drop. Enough to end this life and escape this nightmare. The window lacked any means of opening it in the traditional sense… but I found a metal stool under my bed.
I removed the squishy bits protecting the legs and threw the stool at the window as hard as I could. In return, it bounced off the window, merely cracking it. Undeterred, I tried again, and a third time, before it finally shattered. I laughed as the gust of air flowed into this room and, two seconds later, I heard the stool collide with the stone pavement below.
The glass before me presented myriad ways to end my life, but I knew none were faster or more reliable than a drop of this magnitude. I walked through the glass shards, using the pain to motivate me forward, sliced past my garment and into my gut as I hoisted myself onto the window frame, and then I looked down. Down at the stone surface below.
All I had to do was jump. As motivation, I thought about what awaited me. My beloved, my true body, my friends. They were all waiting for me on the other side! All I had to do was jump!
“All you have to do is jump, Isadore, and you can go back to being yourself!”
As I verbalized my beliefs, I found the courage to lean my weight forward and let the power of gravity pull me down. Down past a building of glass and to the flat stone below.
As my head neared my destination, all I could see was black. All I could feel was my own body and, soon enough, I couldn’t even feel that. Soon enough, there was naught but darkness. Naught but black.
I knew not why I was in this world, or what this world was, and my final thoughts were that of prayer. I prayed that, even if this was my death, that I would be reunited with Zyrus in Heaven.
Following the release of TSF Series #004-2, I have wanted to write a story that tackled Isadore dealing with her virtual video game world going ‘offline.’ A story where Venturers of Radiant: Extreme declared its end of service. Where its campaign ended and Isadore was sent back to Earth, where she was placed in the body of her original self.
This idea floated in my head for about a year and a half, never really taking form, until I sat down, and did it. I re-read and re-edited TSF Series #004-1 and TSF Series #004-2 and wrote the outline for this story on a Saturday. I wrote the 9,300 word original draft for this story the following Sunday (which was a personal record for me, and I don’t even know how I did it). After which, I edited it the following Monday, and made the header image on Tuesday. Including all six back sprites.
As such, this is a story that I do not have the best grasp of, as I have not given myself any real time to look it over or assess it. However, on a fundamental level, I believe it does what it needs to.
It builds upon the ‘cosmetic lore’ of the original two stories with its introduction, which was something that I outlined in about ten minutes. ‘Dragons are using the moon to block out the sun and will descend upon the Earth to reclaim it, so the heroes gather around the elemental beasts to summon the Lunar Whale— because I like Final Fantasy IV. This lets the heroes travel to the moon, defeat the dragons, and save the world from eternal darkness and genocide.’ It is slightly weird, fairly simple, and spiritually true to the JRPG narrative genre that TSF Series #004 is heavily inspired by.
For the final battle, I thought about basing it off of the final battle in Dragalia Lost, the primary inspiration for this trilogy. But that game’s conclusion was a bit too triumphant for a story like this, so I chose to create a conflict that featured a greater sense of loss. A conflict less like your typical JRPG and closer to the end of Muv-Luv Alternative. A conflict where lots of named characters die, but the threat is largely eliminated and things are looking good for the inhabitants of the planet.
The loss, the way I view it, is not about the reader’s connection to the wafer-thin side characters as much as it is about the impact this all has on the protagonist. She saves the world, but loses her dearest friends in the process, including her lover. She is put in a bad spot, but takes up the role of queen because she feels she needs to. Then, right when she is starting to become optimistic about the future, the credits roll, and she is denied her happy ending.
This leads into the fourth chapter, where I decided to have a ‘body swap de-isekai coma awakening scene.’ Which mostly took the form of the protagonist waking up, making confused observations of the world around her, and eventually learning the truth. I had a lot of loose ideas for how I could play this, including making this section far longer and incorporating the Illanes family, but I decided to go with a more ‘minimal’ approach. Trying to remain vaguely realistic and grounded, before bringing in the exposition from someone who can communicate with the protagonist.
There was a lot more that could be done here. A more detailed explanation for how/why VoRE was sucking people into the world of Gaia. More interactions between Isadore and other characters. And a larger time scale. However, I could not decide on a satisfactory explanation for how the digital isekai worked, and I felt that anything else in the hospital would be… unwanted fluff.
Also, that whole ‘sucked through a tablet’ thing from TSF Series #004-1? Um… that was Ian’s soul being sent through the tablet. Not his body. It just felt like it. …Yeah, that explanation works.
The fifth chapter, End of Service, is one that I went back and forward on several times. My original outline gave Isadore a happier ending where she was able to find other people who spent years within VoRE like herself, and retained memories of their soul-bonded characters. It was a hopeful ending, but the more I thought about it, the less it seemed appropriate for the story I was actually telling here.
TSF Series #004-3: VoRE_EOS is a story about someone losing everything. Their body, their home, their world, their friends, everything. While I could have changed this around by writingIsadore as more of an optimistic character who would find the brighter side of any situation she was in, that did not feel right. That was not how she was written before, and that did not work with the rest of the story I was writing. Isadore is almost neurotic about maintaining what she has. She loves her life dearly and defines happiness around others. If she was in an alien-looking world, robbed her of everything she knew, and was told her old world was gone, I don’t think she would have the strength to carry on. I don’t think… most people really would.
This leads to the suicide scene. I rewrote it a few times, changing the method of death, before deciding on falling, as I felt it was the most ‘painless’ way she could go. It felt… manic, but not grotesque, and at least somewhat… ‘respectful.’
Suicide is a concept I tackle from time to time in my work, due to my own history of suicidal fantasies and self-punishment through self-harm. However, I always feel bad about doing this with a character who is not closely related to myself, like Verde Dusk, Jade Novus, and Nate Neumann. With Isadore however… I viewed her as a miserable daughter of mine, and one who I wanted to put her out of her misery.
Now, what do I mean by “put her out of her misery?” Well, that’s up for you to interpret. Maybe Isadore woke up in Gaia and realized it was all a dream. Maybe she does go to Heaven. Or maybe she spends all of eternity in a void of nothingness until she ceases to be. It’s vague on purpose, and I’m not going to make a TSF Series #004-4.
However, I will touch upon something that I did not make super obvious in this story. TSF Series #004-3 is also a commentary on what it is like to be invested in a live service that comes to an end. When End of Service comes. You can probably gather what I mean by that. When a game announces the end of service, it is like the characters you came to know and love are being killed and the world is being cast in darkness. When EOS comes, a game ceases to be a game and becomes nothing more than a series of memories. And if you are super invested in a live service, it can feel like you are losing something dear and precious to you.